Supreme Court to impose costs on states not responding on plea to declare minorities at state/district level
NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Friday said that it will impose costs on state governments for not submitting their response to the Central government on the issue of identification of minorities at the state or district level.
A bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta said that the state government, if it fails to file an affidavit before the apex court or furnish data or comments to the Centre within a period of six weeks, will have to pay a cost of INR 10,000.
The bench said that it will take up the issue of identification of minorities in April.
It also asked the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs to file an updated status report at least two weeks prior to the next date of listing.
The batch of pleas challenge a provision of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act declaring Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis, Sikhs and Jains as minorities at the national level and seek a direction to the Centre to define “minority” and lay down the guidelines for the identification of minorities at the district level and state-wise status.
Earlier, the top court had remarked that religious and linguistic minority status has to be decided state wise, observing that it is difficult to entertain a prayer to identify religious and linguistic minorities at the district level.
In the case of TMA Pai and others vs State of Karnataka (2002), the Supreme Court had held that minorities must be identified at the state-level.